Max Verstappen broke almost all records in 2023 and while that must be respected, some started to claim the Red Bull drivers efforts were making Grand Prix racing boring.
Many Formula 1 fans still think back to 2021, when the battle between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the first truly intra-team title battle since 2012, with fans increasingly becoming partisan, but ex-F1 driver Giedo van der Garde states in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365 that it is not difficult to remain neutral.
"I think it is very special what we are experiencing now in the Netherlands," Van der Garde says.
""If you have someone who can win 19 races in a season, and ten in a row, that's unprecedented.
"We actually don't dwell on it too long and too much. It just becomes normal and actually it's not normal. For television shows and people it becomes: 'oh, Max won again.' Then it must all be normal, but guys, what we are experiencing now in the Netherlands is really unprecedented."
"In that case, the championship would not have been decided until the penultimate race."
Though Van der Garde, who announced his farewell as a racing driver, does understand where the line of thinking is coming from. "On the one hand, of course, you kind of get it, but on the other hand, as an analyst and driver, I know how difficult it is to get there at all, drive in the points and win the race," he said.
"But then, when he now wins 19 races and gets the third championship, it's not normal and inhuman."
"Sometimes the races were a bit boring, it could have been more spectacular. Only I think there was just one that stood out and that was Verstappen.
"Very honestly, the combination he has with his Red Bull, with his engineer, with his team and how he performed was unprecedented. With the rest below that, sometimes it was another Aston Martin or a Sergio Perez that came out on top, then Ferrari again. It kind of shot in all directions."
"If you then look at 2023 and take away Verstappen, it has been quite a spectacular year," Van der Garde continued.
"In that case, the championship wouldn't have been decided until the penultimate race. We can't really grumble about that and I liked how you saw the different things through the season.
"Aston Martin started off super strong, of course, and then you had a mega comeback by McLaren. Aston Martin came back a little bit, as did Ferrari, and Mercedes was good in some races and not good at all in others. It went up and down a bit every race."